The first and most noticeable thing about Sunday morning:
It was windy!
But the wind did not deter the 24 kayakers, many of whom were along for their first kayak ever, from showing up with great enthusiasm!
They came with all kinds of crafts, large and small, new and old. Almost half of the participants were using borrowed kayaks. (We must take a moment to thank everyone who generously loaned a kayak for the day so that more people could participate.)
It was a great to see all the teamwork, as people got set up for the morning’s activities.
After a quick debrief on the shore, the group got underway.
The event was funded through the Federal Government’s Caring for Our Country “Renewing Community Support” program. In this instance, we had the opportunity to educate people about the catchments that feed the lake, the work done up to this point, and future plans to maintain the health of the lake for the future.
The event was also planned to tie in with the international event World Wetlands Day. Although Lake Ewlyamartup is not a Ramsar listed wetland, it is still locally and regionally significant, and it is important to share it and ensure that people understand how their own actions can impact on the lake both positively and negatively.
And headed off around Lake Ewlyamartup.
The overall plan was to travel approximately 3 kilometres around the lake, which is about 1 km wide and 1 km long. There were four stops along the way, to look at different aspects of the site.
The first stop was the inlet, where the water comes in, but uniquely, doesn’t go back out, but simply by-passes the lake when it gets full. In fact, Lake Ewlyamartup is an evaporation pond, and therefore, without careful management both of the lake itself and the catchment that feeds it, it will simply become hyper-saline and unusable again. (See the rest of the story on Lake Ewlyamartup here for more of its history and how the community rallied to improve the health of the lake, through fencing and vegetation, education programs, fertiliser management programs, and more.)
Further, all the water from the towns of Katanning and Broomehill feed Lake Ewlyamartup, so the towns catchment and storm water management make a significant impact on the overall health of the lake.
One of the key factors for maintaining the future health of the lake will be to create an outlet so that water can be flushed in the first rains of winter, hopefully removing a good amount of salt and nutrient sediment that otherwise remains locked in the lake.
Stop Number Two: was a look in the area near where an outlet channel is planned, and where the bird hide will eventually be placed, here on the quieter more sheltered area of the lake. This is an excellent spot for bird watchers, with around 95 species of birds using the lake at various time, as they migrate, nest and feed.
Then everyone headed off to the third stop, the Eagle’s Nest.
There is a large Wedge Tailed Eagle’s nest that prominently stands in a dead tree on the eastern shore of the lake. Here, the Aboriginal History of the lake was discussed. This lake used to be a fresh, clear watering hole, essential to the Noongar people of the area, and to early farmers of the region. There is an important Aboriginal Heritage site on this shore, and Katanning Landcare is seeking funding through Lotterywest to do a project to permanently acknowledge the aboriginal history of this important place.
The fourth stop: The Nursery (or the white dam) where the protected Hooded Plovers live and nest. Here paddlers got a quick chat about the farming history, school and small settlement that once prospered here on the edge lake back when it was fresh, as well as the environmental significance of the lake, the birds that nest and feed here, and what we can to do protect it while using it.
Then they came rolling home.
Time for a group photo! This isn’t everyone, but it was all we could gather together!
Everyone got to enjoy the new beach area, retaining wall, and picnic tables.
The Shire of Katanning is working on completing a new boat ramp, and the installation of shade shelters, barbeques, and composting toilets, which have been funded through Lotterywest and the Department of Transport. This last bit of infrastructure in the main recreation area will make this a great spot to bring the family and spend a whole day just enjoying the water!
The morning went really well, and was a whole lot of fun, and we can’t wait to run it again!
You can learn more about this and other events on our facebook page.
Author: Andrea Salmond
Andrea has been with Katanning Landcare since 2013 and is passionate about equipping people with the tools, skills and resources they need to make positive changes to our environment.